It’s been years since I last baked pita bread, but I sure won’t wait that long again. I made a batch this week and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make, and how tasty it is to eat fresh-from-the-oven pitas!
nicely browned pita bread, fresh from the oven
Backtracking a bit, my wife and I made a pledge this year to bake all our own bread and bakery products. The only thing we’ve bought so far has been tortillas, which we decided was going to be exempt.
Pita bread is our favorite flatbread. We occasionally use it as a pocket bread, but most often it is used baked into pita crisps or as a pizza crust. It also freezes well, which makes it a convenient source of whole grain bread in our diet. We can just pop it out of the freezer and in a few minutes it’s thawed and ready to use.
pita dough resting
I adapted my recipe from this one I found at The Fresh Loaf. There you will find an excellent tutorial on the whole process of pita baking. My only complaint with their recipe is that the oven setting is not hot enough. Traditionally, pitas are baked in a very hot oven. I set ours at 550F, which is the maximum it will go. The pocket is formed by steam when the dough meets the hot stone. If you’re using it strictly as a flatbread, then oven temp doesn’t matter so much.
I used a well-seasoned pizza stone to bake the pitas on. If you don’t have a stone, you can bake the pitas on a thick baking sheet that is turned upside down. You want to make sure the baking sheet doesn’t warp at the high oven temperatures. A pizza stone or baking tiles are really the best way to go.
pita meets pizza stone
pita puffs up
If you’re at all familiar with baking, and have a pizza stone or baking tiles, then making pita bread is easy. It’s also a fun thing to do with kids and family.
Any combination and white and whole wheat flours can be used in this recipe – all white, all whole wheat, or any combination in between. Baked pitas keep for several days, or you can freeze for longer storage.
1-1/2 cup flour, white whole wheat or whole wheat
1-1/2 cup flour, unbleached white
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp yeast, active dry
2 tbsp oil, olive
1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 1-1/4 cup warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast. (If using instant yeast, skip this step and mix all wet and dry ingredients together)
2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, yeast/water mixture and oil. Stir mixture to form a ball. Add up to 1/4 cup more water if needed.
3. Place dough on work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or use low speed of electric mixer to knead.
4. Place dough in bowl lightly coated with a little oil. Cover and let rise for 90 minutes, until doubled in bulk.
5. Punch dough down to release trapped gases. Divide dough into 8 balls. Cover and let rest for 20-30 minutes. This step allows the dough to relax so it is easier to shape.
6. While dough is resting, place pizza stone or baking tiles in oven and preheat to 550°F.
7. Spread light coat of flour on work surface. Place one ball of dough there and sprinkle top with flour. Use hands or rolling pin to flatten out to 1/8″ or 1/4″ thick. If dough is hard to stretch, cover and let rest another 5-10 minutes. Prepare as much dough as will fit on pizza stone at one time.
8. Open oven and place as many pitas as you can fit on the stone. Let bake for 2-3 minutes, until puffed up and as brown as desired.
9. While one batch of pitas are baking, form next batch of dough. Repeat until all dough is baked.
10. Remove pitas from oven and let cool. Bubbles should deflate as pitas cool. Be careful – pitas are full of hot steam when taken from the oven!